09/27/16 / Padres360.com / @Padres360
By Wayne McBrayer and Rebecca Herman from Petco Park
On May 19, 2016, we arrived early for the game, when the gates opened, like we always do. We were walking in the Park in the Park at Petco and were approached by some people who asked us if we had already voted for the All-Star Game. We said – absolutely – the Padres are hosting it and we need our guys on the field! They then asked if we would be willing to shoot a little promo to encourage people to vote. Sure!
We were escorted to the beach area in outfield and saw the camera crew. The goal was to promote voting for Wil Myers to be the first baseman for the National League. We got to practice a couple of times and then they were ready to shoot. We were focused and thought we were really delivering what they wanted – then – BAM! Wil Myers walked up behind us. What a surprise!
Wil was nice enough to take selfies with us and sign a couple of baseballs as well. Wayne mentioned that we blogged about the Padres and how we would love the opportunity to interview him. He was quick to reply, “Let’s do it.” Josh Ishoo, Padres Senior Manager of Media Relations was nearby and agreed to setup an interview in the near future.
We aren’t sure if our commercial helped but Wil was very involved with the 2016 All-Star Game. He was named Ambassador, was in the Home Run Derby, and played DH.
Fast forward to September, 20, 2016. We arrived at 4:30PM at Petco Park on a rare rainy day with the tarp on the field. Batting practice had been cancelled and we would be conducting the interview from the dugout rather than on the field. As we waited for Wil, we watched part of the sneak-peak of the new TV series “Pitch” playing in the background while rain continued.
As we talked with Wil, it quickly became apparent that personal relationships are very important to him. When talking about his memories of the All-Star Game and what was very special to him, he didn’t talk about the double he hit, or being named a starter by Manager Terry Collins; he immediately started talking about family, “Just sharing it with my brother. He was with me, pretty much, the entire All-Star experience and Fan-Fest, as well as in the clubhouse. Just having him here; throwing to me in the Home Run Derby. Then, obviously, having my parents here and my girl friend as well.” Wil is a young man who keeps those he loves and admires close to his heart.
Growing up in Thomasville, NC, Wil would occasionally watch the Braves on Superstation TBS and did have a few players he admired including Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, and Fred McGriff. Wil noted that, “I never had one player that I really looked up to or a team I really followed that well.” Wil was out on the field, playing sports, and working on his baseball skills, “I played all the sports” and “baseball was, obviously, my favorite.”
We also wanted to know which managers and coaches had influenced Wil as he came up through the ranks. He was quick to say that he had many mentors. Two of the biggest influences early on were Tony Tijerina (Royals) and Dave Myers (Tampa Bay). Wil said, “So far, Dave Myers is big as far as the hitting side and Tony Tijerina was the guy who really taught me the game. I was drafted as a catcher; he was kind of the catching coordinator. I liked talking to him. He was great for me. He was really the first guy I met in that organization, as far as the coach is concerned. Those two guys right there played a big part of my career.”
Thus far, Wil has worked with three MLB managers: Joe Maddon, Bud Black, and Andy Green. We asked him to share what he believed set them apart and what leadership trait(s) really comes to mind when thinking of working with each of them. He found Maddon and Black to be quite similar, while he believes Green is a bit different.
Wil: “You know, Joe’s great. I absolutely loved playing for Joe. He was a great person, a great manager. He’s very smart in the game. One thing I really enjoyed about him was how relaxed he kept it in the club house. Black was very similar to Joe. They came up together with the Angels. Both of those two guys are very similar. I really enjoyed playing for both of those guys a lot.”
“Andy Green here, he’s a lot different. Not only is he a lot different than the other two but I love playing for Andy Green. He is a guy who genuinely cares about people; not saying that Joe and Bud did not. I have a different relationship with Andy and that’s something I’ve never had before. He’s a great person. I look up to the guy. I feel like he’s got a lot of things under control in his life. That’s something that I respect and look up to.”
It’s great to learn that Wil has had terrific people in his life both on and off the field. Relationships and great mentors can really make a difference and help people succeed.
With the rain continuing to water the field at Petco, we decided to ask him a food question. Several months back, Wil stated how he preferred Mexican food back home compared to that in San Diego. The statement caused a bit of an uproar and many fans jumped on the bandwagon to defend the Mexican food cooked here in San Diego. At the time, we really didn’t understand what the big deal was and when we shot the commercial with him, we asked him why he liked the food back home more. His simple answer was, “It’s what I grew up eating.” Ask a simple question, get a simple answer. We decided to dig a bit deeper.
We asked him if we visited his hometown and he invited us to go out to eat with him, what Mexican restaurants would he select. Wil lit up and was quick to respond: “There’s two of them back home that I go to a lot. Pancho Villa’s in High Point, NC. I get the Chori Pollo. Mazatlan Family Mexican Restaurant is the one in my hometown, Thomasville. I get the ACP there. Which nobody knows about those two things.”
He was excited and we wanted to know just what those selections were. Wil perked up and told us that, “The Chori Pollo is a grilled chicken breast with chorizo on it with good white queso, not San Diego queso,” Wil said with a smile on his face. “Great white queso, rice and beans.
The ACP is just grilled chicken cut up, with rice and beans on top.”
Wil loves his food and as we told him ending the interview, as Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods) says, “If it looks good, eat it.” “There you go, that’s right” said Wil as we concluded our interview in the dugout. Wil Myers is not only a great player with a lot of talent but also a terrific man with character – one we hope will be part of the Padres long-range plans as we build for the future.
Wil retuned to the clubhouse and we enjoyed the rain and talking with Josh Ishoo about baseball and getting to know him a little more. It was fun to exchange ideas on best places to eat around Petco Park, at Spring Training, and even at other ballparks. Juggling media responsibilities is a challenging job but he handles it well and is a great baseball fan and a great person. It was a terrific day and we were happy to head to the Omni Club for a great meal to wait out the rain delay.